Politics Blog: Never a dull moment in the Burnaby South by-election

Burnaby, B.C. – February 1, 2019 – Ever since the seat became vacant six months ago, there have been many twists and turns in the riding of Burnaby South. Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh announced he would run for the seat when a by-election was finally called by Prime Minister Trudeau in January. The by-election will be held on February 25.

After much delay, the Liberals nominated daycare operator and failed B.C. Liberal candidate Karen Wang as their candidate. But shortly after her nomination, Wang made racist comments about Singh on a Chinese social media site. She then resigned her candidacy, only to try and withdraw her resignation two days later. But the Liberals rejected the withdrawal and set out to find a new candidate. Soon after, news leaked that Wang had approached the Conservative Party last year and asked them about running for the party in the 2019 Federal Election. But the Conservatives turned down her candidacy. Then it was revealed that local Liberals had warned the national party about potential problems with Wang, but to no avail.

The Liberals have now appointed former B.C. Liberal MLA Richard Lee as their candidate. Lee was defeated by the NDP in the 2017 B.C. provincial election. And it is possible that controversy may also follow Lee. The current speaker of the B.C. Legislature has just released a scathing report about misspending by legislative officials who worked for the Speakers Office. The report says previous speakers – all of whom were Liberal MLAs – turned a blind eye to the misspending taking place under their watch. Lee was the Deputy Speaker from 2015 to 2017.   

Meanwhile, Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party announced that their candidate would be Laura-Lynn Tyler Thompson. Thompson is a former pundit on Christian television who recently ran for school trustee in Burnaby. She is an ardent anti-abortion activist but is better known as an outspoken critic of resources developed to help B.C. schools support LGBTQ students and make schools more inclusive. She has dedicated a good portion of her life to fighting what she calls “a global initiative to make the ideology of the LGBTQ well accepted and taught even in pre-school.” Thompson’s views are so extreme that even the B.C. Conservative Party twice rejected her as a possible candidate.

Throughout this entire circus, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has taken the high road. He accepted Wang’s apology for her inappropriate comments and talked about the importance of bringing people together regardless of their racial or ethnic backgrounds. He continues to voice his support for the LGBTQ community and is offering real policy positions on issues like affordable housing, which is a major problem in Burnaby. So, despite all the twists and turns in Burnaby South, it appears likely that Singh could soon be serving as the MP for the riding.